FLDS marshals again arrest leaseholders for trespassing; reporter threatened with arrest

The St. George News, Utah/October 18, 2015

by Cami Cox Jim

Colorado City, Arizona – Just a few days after two men were arrested for trespassing on Colorado City, Arizona, property they had a legal lease to occupy, the Hildale-Colorado City Marshal’s Office arrested the men again Saturday afternoon – once again charging them with trespassing on the property. The marshals also told others at the scene with the men, including a St. George News reporter, that they would be arrested if they did not leave.

Patrick Pipkin, of Prairie Farms, and Andrew Chatwin were arrested Tuesday on one class B misdemeanor charge each for allegedly trespassing on 12-acre land that used to be the FMJ Zoo. On Saturday, the men were arrested once again on class B misdemeanor trespassing charges.

Prairie Farms has legally leased the property through an agricultural lease agreement with the United Effort Plan Trust, but members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints moved onto the property after an eviction notice was posted, UEP Trust attorney Bill Walker said, taking up residence in a livestock tack shed and claiming the property is residential and not commercial.

Walker said this is a typical maneuver by FLDS people when eviction action is taken on a commercial property; they move in and claim residency in order to derail the eviction process and keep ex-FLDS or non-FLDS people off the land. In this case, FLDS individuals have moved into a tack shed at the zoo, stating it is their residential home.

Though Prairie Farms posted the requisite five-day notice to vacate following the finalization of their lease agreement, Hildale-Colorado City Chief Marshal Jerry Darger said Pipkin and others cannot legally be there until an eviction order has been obtained through the court and there is an order for physical removal of the people living in the tack shed.

“They (Pipkin and Chatwin) were informed to not come back until there was an eviction,” Darger said. “They came back with Mohave County to do a criminal investigation. They’ve accomplished that, and now they’re back over here against what they’ve been directly told not to do.”

“I would agree that the lease is a valid lease with the trust,” Darger went on to say, “but to come and take the last occupant off they need to go through the court eviction.”

Once that has been done, Darger said, the people living on the property could be arrested for trespassing themselves.

“Then we’ll come enforce that; Mohave County would come and enforce that physical order by the court to remove them from the property,” he said.

Darger added that the people living in the tack shed were residing on the property before the lease agreement was signed, though he did not specify how long they had been there.

“They’ve been living here for however long before this was ever leased to these two gentlemen here,” he said.

Walker previously told St. George News that multiple witnesses stated the FLDS people did not move onto the property until after the eviction notice was posted. He said there is evidence the people moved items into the tack shed, including a refrigerator, only after that happened.

“They’re trying to make this look like it’s a residence, and it’s all a lie,” Walker said, “and the Marshal’s Office does nothing but help them. The Marshal’s Office does everything it can to discriminate against people who are not FLDS.”

Prairie Farms has consented to let the FLDS people remain in the tack shed, giving them access to it, in an attempt to temporarily resolve the dispute.

“After the arrests (on Tuesday), the next day, the people from UEP and the lessee came out and were told by me, instructed, to secure the property, to take fencing and lock up around everything and give ingress and egress to that little tack room that people are illegally inhabiting,” Walker said.

On Tuesday, more than $50,000 in damages and theft were discovered at the property, Walker said.

On Saturday, approximately 100 FLDS people were found at the zoo, loading up trucks and removing items, also causing property damage and cutting fences in order to access the property.

“This is property that is not owned by any of these people,” Walker said. “They don’t have any lease to the property.”

Mohave County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the property along with Prairie Farms representatives, including Pipkin. Hildale resident Andrew Chatwin was asked to bring his video camera and record what was happening.

Once again, the Hildale-Colorado City Marshal’s Office responded to the property, as well.

None of the FLDS people who were on the property were arrested or charged for the damage they caused or for the cut fences or the property removal, but Pipkin, Chatwin, UEP Trust Employee and Consultant Isaac Wyler, and others there with permission from Prairie Farms to be on the property, including a St. George News reporter, were told they would be arrested for trespassing if they didn’t leave.

Once again, marshals arrested Chatwin and Pipkin, though Pipkin once again showed the marshals the lease agreement that gave him the right to be there.

Pipkin’s young son was with him and witnessed the arrest. The child had to be picked up from the property by family members.

As of Sunday morning, Pipkin and Chatwin were still in custody at Purgatory Correctional Facility, according to information from the jail.

Walker, who is legally representing the two men, said matters like these are clear acts of religious-based persecution by the Marshal’s Office.

“They (the marshals) make no sense,” he said. “They are liars. They are handmaidens of Warren Jeffs. These people are under the spell of Warren Jeffs, and there’s nothing that he can do wrong and nothing that anybody who is an apostate can do right.”

“They (the marshals) take an oath, and they violate their oath every day,” he added.

Darger said there is no truth to allegations that the Marshal’s Office serves the FLDS church.

Though they respond to these incidents when called, Wyler said, officers from the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office refrain from interceding when an arrest is taking place or an action is being taken by the Marshal’s Office because it’s the marshals’ jurisdiction.

“They don’t want to interfere with interagency stuff,” Wyler said.

He added that the only way incidents like this will stop is if the Marshal’s Office is disbanded.

“(It’s the) only thing I can see that would make any kind of a change,” Wyler said.

Walker said a minor charge like trespassing would normally be dealt with by issuing a citation to the individuals – not taking them to jail. His clients have now been taken to jail twice.

“Think how much it costs the city to incarcerate these people overnight,” Walker said.

He added that he plans to sue the Marshal’s Office for these actions.

“We’re going to go after their licenses and see if we can’t get them decertified as police officers,” he said.

“They’re not going to get away with this,” Walker added. “They have not heard the last of this. They’ve picked on the wrong people.”

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